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Don'€™t Trust People Who Worship Technology

Don'€™t Trust People Who Worship Technology

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Jaron Lanier and Andrew Keen make powerful arguments against tech utopianism.

A debate on artificial intelligence took place at the 92nd St Y on Wednesday night, and it took on real sweep that went beyond the subject of AI. This wasn'€™t just because the victory of a Google bot over a South Korean champion at the ancient game of Go has made the matter of AI especially pressing. Wednesday'€™s discussion highlighted some of the best '€“ and worst '€“ ways we think about technology. The whole debate, called '€œDon'€™t Trust the Promise of Artificial Intelligence,'€ is worth watching.

The best came from Jaron Lanier, who has an important place in these conversations. One of the key ways cyber-utopians shut down anyone who express doubts about technology is to brand them as a '€œLuddite,'€ but this computer scientist who helped develop virtual reality and recently sold a company to Google is hard to tar that way. On Wednesday night, he gave a technical description of how AI worked and didn'€™t, and he concluded with one of the sharpest things anyone has said about our assumptions about the digital world.